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California - Pacific Coast Highway, drive from Irvine to SFO/San Jose

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California - Pacific Coast Highway, drive from Irvine to SFO/San Jose

Old Jun 17th, 2012, 09:19 AM
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Nbr
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California - Pacific Coast Highway, drive from Irvine to SFO/San Jose

My husband and I are planning to drive from Irvine to San Jose, via the Pacific Coast Highway, in early Sept. We have only two days. From these forums and other information I understand that the best views are from San Simeon northwards. Given the short time we have, could you please give your suggestions re the following?:
1. Driving from Irvine, where should we join Hwy 1 (to save time, but at the same time not miss any of the views/sights)?
2. I feel it would be better to stay at San Simeon for the night, in order to cover all the spots the following day. My first plan was to stay in San Luis Obispo, but after reading all the comments in this forum, I'm having second thoughts.
We may give Hearst Castle a miss, as we prefer to do whatever hikes we can on this trip.
All suggestions welcome.
We plan to stay with family in San Jose and see SFO.
Have to add that this forum is extremely useful. I've been able to get a lot of information.
Thanks
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 09:43 AM
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Hi Nbr --

I don't know what you read about SLO that's giving you second thoughts. SLO, while inland, is a charming spot to stop. A great mission and college town. Especially if you're giving Hearst Castle a miss.

SLO is the town where you can catch HWY 1 or continue up the 101.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 10:05 AM
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You will not miss much if you just zip from Irvine - up the 101 to south of San Louis Obisbo. see: http://tinyurl.com/7tjcl3j http://maps.google.com/maps?


Have you checked out Cambria - a very cute town with some places around it that are good for walking, which I presume is what you want - or are you looking for vigorous hikes?

Here is a listing of some of the lodging places. http://www.seecambria.com/lodgingset.htm

Walking along Moonstone beach is also very beautiful and it has nice places to stay. http://www.cambriachamber.org/motels-beach.php
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 01:16 PM
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I rarely give up the opportunity to stay near the ocean, so I wouldn't choose SLO - although it is a nice town. Pismo Beach, Morro Bay, or Cambria would be my choice.

Join Hwy 1 at SLO.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 02:25 PM
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I'd overnight in Cambria or farther north to give yourselves more time on Hwy 1 the next day.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 06:38 PM
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Thanks everyone, for the quick response. I guess I was a little too vague in my request.
@Surfergirl,I do intend stopping to see SLO, just not staying the night there. Since most of the views worth seeing are north of San Simeon, I thought I'd give ourselves more time on Hwy 1 the second day (like @Patty suggested). Hence the thought of spending the night at San Simeon.
@Tomsd,Thanks for all the links. Checked out the Cambria lodgings. Seems a bit too expensive for my budget. But will still keep that in mind. And no, we don't plan to do vigorous hikes. Just the easier hikes. Would like to take in most of the views possible. I know two days is too short for this trip, but that's all we can do.Will try to make the most of it.
@november_moon, Will check out Pismo Beach and Morro Bay too.
So all of you seem to united in the opinion that we should join Hwy 1 at/south of SLO. we might just do that.
Again, thanks to all of you.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 07:10 PM
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The best route from Irvine is taking the 405 all the way to 101 then 101 all the way to SLO then take hwy 1 from there. And yes, skipping the castle will give you more time to enjoy the beautiful coastal scenery. Bring warm layers to put on over your t-shirts when you hit the cold winds along hwy 1.
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Old Jun 17th, 2012, 08:27 PM
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Another possible stop would be Cayucos, a cute little beach town just north of Morro Bay. A lovely long stretch of beach complete with pier, good restaurant selection, authentic feel.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 03:27 AM
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I recommend you at least pull in at Hearst Castle and check out the small museum/exhibit there - and possible enjoy the 20? minute show. They also have good coffee - and used to make a very good tri-tip from the cattle they still raise on the huge ranch/grounds.

And about two miles north of the entrance to HC - is the beach with the big Elephant Seals - and that is worth at least a short stop. Can just pull off the hiway into the parking lot. When the big bulls (5,000 lbs plus) are in for the mating season - there are some ginormous fights.

http://tinyurl.com/74n9bea

But don't go down on the beach - as some dummies do. These seals are normally pretty mellow - but hey - they are big and even if they ran you over without meaning to - you would still be injured. Plus - if they thought you were harming their little ones - no telling what they might do.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 06:01 PM
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@monterybob, layers, in Sept? Really? We just got rid of the layers here (in Canada). So it gets that cold in the evenings?
@bon_voyage, didn't know about Cayucos. Thanks
@Tomsd, will keep in mind your suggestion re Hearst Castle. And yes, I had read about the elephant seals. I have already noted that down in my 'to-do-to-see' list Checked the link. The seals ARE huge!
I've been a able to get a lot of information about the various sights to see on this route from elsewhere in these forums. I must say all of you are really very helpful. Makes planning a lot easier.
Thanks again. If more questions arise, will visit back!
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 06:52 PM
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Nbr, yes, layers. The northern CA coastline has a micro climate. Because the ocean water there is very cold, it often creates a marine layer (cold fog) on top of the ocean. The warm air inland rises and often draws the cold marine layer on to the shoreline and sometimes a mile or two inland. This can happen any time of the year but most frequently in warmer months. When it occurs you will definitely need a a sweatshirt along the ocean or if the wind is blowing strongly sometimes a heavy jacket. If it is not happening, you'll be OK with a T-shirt. This effect can vary by the hour, day, or week.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 07:08 PM
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@montereybob, oh wow! Thanks for the heads up.
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Old Jun 18th, 2012, 09:32 PM
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Which kind of hikes appeal to you the most? Among the redwoods, along the shoreline, out in the valleys and hills?

Layering is the way to go along the coast. T-shirt/blouse and something warmer, like a sweater or a windbreaker, preferably with a hood.

when you're hiking, please wear long pants and maybe even long sleeves. Our last hike, a week ago, we were going through tall grass and there were all these ticks hanging on the tops of the grass, just waiting to latch onto some mammal. Try not to touch any of the vegetation - and that's what the long pants and long sleeves are for. Your pants should also, preferably be narrow in the bottom.

Besides the ticks, the other thing to look out for is poison oak. It's really getting quite prolific now in the summer.

so, read up a bit about how to take care of yourself in the event of a tick bite or when you accidentally touch poison oak.

One more possible danger is mountain lions. We have some trails very close to our house and just today we got a warning that someone had seen a mountain lion in the hills no more than a mile from our house straight as the crow flies. So, learn a bit about mountain lions as well.

Not trying to scare you. We share this earth with a lot of critters. You'll be awed by the wheeling hawks and charmed by the nibbling gophers, but you also need to take some basic precautions to make your hikes enjoyable.

Lastly, a question - have you decided which parks you're going to focus on in the Big Sur area?
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 04:19 AM
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Mountain Lions rarely bother people - but as we further encroach into their habitat - some interactions do occur, but with very few deaths.

You are much more likely to be bothered by ticks - or poison ivy - than be attacked by a mountain lion. And if you are bit by a tick - seek medical attention - as Lyme disease is no "walk in the park". (BTW - for ticks - you can use a match applied to their behind - to "back them out" - and recently there was another good suggestion for how to remove them - but alas - I can't recall it at the moment).

Back to Mountain Lions - aka - pumas/cougars/Mexican Lions, etc - the main thing if you see one is to stand your ground and stare them down - easier said than done admittedly.

If you turn to run - you are resembling a prey victim and their natural response is to give chase - and attack, as sadly happened a few years ago to a woman jogger in the Folsom/Sacto area - who was just running along a path and apparently didn't see the cougar (they are normally quite stealthy) - and she was killed..

As for Sep weather - it's usually very nice - but the fog/marine layer can come onshore. I remember one warm summer day - when in the East Bay (think the Danville area) - it was something like 98 degrees in the afternoon - and a swift moving fog layer came whipping in from the ocean (the "natural air conditioner" for the bay area) - and the temp dropped 50 - yes fifty - degrees in an hour.

Now that's extreme - but hopefully with the other contributions here - you better understand how a nice warm day can get a wee bit chilly.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 06:19 AM
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To continue tomsd's post:

Poison oak is far more prevalent in California than poison ivy - that I've seen, but try to be able to identify both.

As far as avoiding mountain lions - try not to walk alone or be too close to places where they could hide - like overhangs - which is easier said than done on narrow trails If you suspect, or see a warning about possible mountain lion presence, carry a "weapon" like a big stick. Depending on where you are, you may find some random branch lying around. I usually pick it up, use it as a walking stick and then return it to the wilderness at the end of the hike.

Oh, and when you are done with your hike, dust yourself off, jump up and down to get rid of any tiny passengers

some people like to wear hats or a sweatband, I don't but that's another article of clothing to consider.

If you do get a tick embedded in your skin, do not try to yank it out. The body will become detached from the head, which will continue to inject its poisonous juices into you. You need to be able to get the head out. I'll try to find a website with detailed info on ticks.

Please don't let us scare you. The hikes are wonderful this time of year.

Have you considered Point Lobos?
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 06:31 AM
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Well, the internet seems to be full of advice on how to remove a tick!

Here are a couple. The CVS youtube link is particularly useful.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=0wotB38WrRY

http://www.snopes.com/oldwives/tick.asp

If you need more info, just google "How to Remove a Tick" and you can spend the rest of the day reading!

The trick is not to squeeze the body (and release the poison into you), but to grasp it as close to the head as possible and remove gently - no twisting, as that will detach the head.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 06:45 AM
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you might look into a little stopover just north of Cambria called Treebones - great sushi bar and very accommodating yurts
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 07:49 AM
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A twig isn't going to do much against a mountain lion. A hatchet maybe - but doubtful a small branch.

However - it's not the mountain lion you may see that would be the real problem. It's the one who has already stalked you and most likely sprung on you from behind that is the worry.

Again, it's very very rare to be the victim of a mountain lion attack. Wikipedia says only 20 have been killed in the US since 1890 - with six here in California. "At least 20 people in North America were killed by cougars between 1890 and 2011, including six in California."

I grew up camping in Oregon - with the Cub and Boy Scouts, and also hunted quite a bit - and have never come close to seeing a cougar in the wild. Heck - not even a bear.

The key - if you see one - is to stand your ground - and that will confuse them - as they normally have prey scampering to get away from them. Again, not easy to do when you have such a magnificent, beautiful beast glowering at you - but that's what it takes.

Somehow that reminds me of a great scene from the movie - The Gods Must Be Crazy. http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0080801/

The young, short son of the small Bushman hunter is out in the bush/veld and comes across a hyena. Now his dad has told him that if he stands up straight and makes himself look taller than a hyena they will not attack.

So the young guy cleverly puts a rock on his head to appear taller than the Hyena - and lives to tell the tale.
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 08:44 AM
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That was a great great movie!
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Old Jun 19th, 2012, 09:07 AM
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I just wanted to recommend this place, where I stayed just one night, before visiting Hearst Castle (about 10 minute drive from this hotel).

Best Western PLUS Cavalier Oceanfront Resort
9415 Hearst Dr
San Simeon, CALIFORNIA
93452-9724
805/927-4688

I did not pay extra for an oceanview room, but the hotel is located right next to the water. I could easily see the surf from my room's front door, which door opened to an outside landing. The property has two or three bonfires set on the beach, with chairs, and it is extremely pleasant at night.

I paid about $138 for my room, without breakfast, but with free parking. Best part was the little fireplace in my room. It was ready to light and was much appreciated on the foggy night. Great little Keurig coffeemaker with selection of coffees and teas in the room's granite countertopped bathroom outer area.

Nice little restaurant on site, too.
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